REDISTRICTING ALMOST FINAL
Feds Give ‘Pre-Clearance’ To City Council Maps
The final realignment plan for the 51 City Council districts in the five boroughs cleared a major hurdle toward becoming finalized last Tuesday, May 21, when the U.S. Justice Department granted pre-clearance to the proposal.
As with all legislative redistricting proposals statewide, the Justice Department must review and accept planned changes as required under the Federal Voting Rights Act. The city’s Districting Commission submitted the plan to the Justice Department in March after meeting the approval of the City Council.
“Public participation and transparency have been our main goals throughout this process,” said Districting
Commission Chairperson Benito Romano in last Tuesday’s announcement. “I believe the determination by the Department of Justice validates that.”
“With over two-thirds of the city’s council districts composing an overall majority of protected racial and language groups, the district plan clearly reflects and accommodates the city’s demographic growth over the past decade,” added Commission Executive Director Carl Hum. “The new Council district map will serve New York City and its citizens well for the coming decade.”
The new district lines—which will be implemented with this year’s citywide elections, in which all 51 City Council seats are on the ballot— were revised twice by the Districting Commission, which began its review process last year. Three rounds of public hearings across the five boroughs were held in which members of the public testified for or against proposed changes to district lines.
According to the Districting Commission, the plan includes 35 “plurality districts in which protected racial and language minority groups represent an overall majority of the total population in the district,” four more than the number of such districts created in 2003.
There was one major shift in district lines within the Times Newsweekly coverage area which proved controversial to Woodhaven residents. As previously reported, the final redistricting plan moves most of Woodhaven into the 32nd City Council District, which is currently represented by Eric Ulrich; presently, most of the neighborhood falls within the 30th City Council District, which is represented by Elizabeth Crowley.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association protested the change, stating that the plan basically amounted to a swap in coverage area between the 30th and 32nd districts.
The area of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill added to the new 32nd District and removed from the old 30th District is generally bounded by Jamaica Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue, 108th Street, Jamaica Avenue (between 108th and 113th streets), 113th Street and Park Lane South.
Being added to the new 30th District is a portion of Woodhaven generally bounded by Forest Parkway, Jamaica Avenue, 89th Street, Atlantic Avenue, Eldert Lane and Park Lane South.
Turning northward, however, the new 30th District will include a larger section of Maspeth and Woodside currently in the 26th City Council District, which is represented by Jimmy Van Bramer. The Maspeth/Woodside addition to the 30th District is generally bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Queens Boulevard, the CSX rail line, 51st and Maurice avenues, 66th Street, 53rd Drive, Maurice Avenue, Rust Street and Arnold Avenue.
An area of Rego Park and Forest Hills currently within the 24th City Council District, represented by James Gennaro, will be added to the new 29th District, represented by City Council Member Karen Koslowitz. That area is generally bounded by 63rd Drive, the Grand Central Parkway, the Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard.
There are nominal changes to the 34th City Council District, the only one of its kind spanning parts of Brooklyn and Queens, which includes areas of Ridgewood, Bushwick, East Williamsburg and Williamsburg. Grover Cleveland Park, located at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Stanhope Street in Ridgewood, will be shifted from the 30th to the 34th districts.
The 34th District is currently represented by City Council Member Diana Reyna.
With the new district lines all but approved, voters will soon get the chance to decide who will represent them in the City Council. Primary elections are scheduled for September, followed by the November general election.
A host of current City Council members will not be running for reelection, as they have been term-limited. They include City Council Members Peter Vallone Jr. (22nd District, based in Astoria), James Gennaro (24th District, based in Fresh Meadows) and Diana Reyna (34th District).
Incumbent members who are rounding out their first term are eligible to run for a second term. They include Julissa Ferreras (21st District, based in Corona), Daniel Dromm (25th District, based in Jackson Heights), Jimmy Van Bramer (26th District), Ruben Wills (28th District, based in Jamaica), Karen Koslowitz (29th District), Elizabeth Crowley (30th District) and Eric Ulrich (34th District).
For questions about voting or to obtain a voter registration form, call 311 or visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us.